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News & Activities
Literature.  París,  19/01/2017

Elegies de Bierville, by Carles Riba, published in French for the first time

Elegies de Bierville (Bierville Elegies) is the most outstanding work by the poet, writer and translator Carles Riba (Barcelona, 1893-1959), and one of the great Catalan works of the early post-war years. Written during his exile in France and published in Barcelona in 1943, it now comes to France, published by Arfuyen and translated by Jean-Claude Morera, thus filling an important gap for French poetry readers. 

Carles Riba (Barcelona, 1893-1959) / © Arxiu de l’Institut d’Estudis Catalans

Carles Riba lived in exile in France for more than four years, from April 1939 to August 1942, in extremely precarious conditions, fleeing first from a civil war and then from a world war. This experience lies at the heart of Bierville Elegies, as he himself said in the preface to the second edition (1949): “In emigration, in effect, and within the feeling of exile, these elegies took shape.”

It is the shared experience of exile that makes the series of 12 separate elegies making up the book into a unitary poem, written in Bierville (I-V), L’Isle-Adam (VI and VII), Bordeaux (XI) and Montpellier (VIII-X and XII). Although each elegy is in itself a finished, complete poem, the series clearly sketches a life story, offered by the poet as an example to the community, to the genuine homeland that shares the same circumstances with him.  

“Sounion! I shall invoke you from afar with a cry of joy, you and your loyal sun, king of the sea and of the wind...”

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The Institut Ramon Llull is a consortium that comprises the Generalitat (Government of Catalonia), Balearic Islands Government and the Barcelona City Council, and its mission is the promotion of Catalan language and culture abroad.
Generalitat de Catalunya Govern de les Illes Balears Ajuntament de Barcelona
The IRL forms part of the Fundació Ramon Llull, which was established by the Government of Andorra, the Ramon Llull Institute, General Council of the Eastern Pyrenees, the city of Alghero, Balearic Islands Towns and Entities Network and the group of Valencian Cities, and has its central offices in Andorra.
Fundació Ramon Llull